Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III Faces Tough Decisions for Hazeltine

July 27, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (AP) — The Olympics has thrown another wrinkle into the golf schedule, this one affecting the American team for the Ryder Cup.

The PGA Championship typically is the final event to earn one of the eight automatic qualifying spots, and then Davis Love III would have four captain’s picks leading up to the Ryder Cup matches that start Sept. 30 at Hazeltine.

Because the PGA has been moved to the end of July ahead of the Olympics, qualifying for the Americans won’t end until Aug. 28 after The Barclays.

Love is looking beyond standings because of the Olympics.

For example, Rickie Fowler has slipped to No. 10 in the standings. He is going to Rio de Janeiro, taking him out of at least two tournaments (Travelers Championship and John Deere Classic) that others behind him in the standings might not play.

Bubba Watson (No. 7 in the standings) is playing next week at the Travelers Championship as the defending champion. However, Matt Kuchar (No. 8) and Patrick Reed (No. 11) will be in Rio for the Olympics.

“I think the assistant captains and I are going to be challenged, because we have so many factors like the Olympics that we haven’t really dealt with before,” Love said. “Rickie just told me he’s going to be down there for 11 days. You have to factor in that there’s two weeks he could have played here.”

It’s more than just the Olympics.

Brooks Koepka was at No. 3 until an ankle injury knocked him out of a lucrative World Golf Championship and the British Open, where money counts double toward the Ryder Cup standings. Koepka now is at No. 9, and his ankle is not at full strength.

Daniel Berger, who won in Memphis a week before the U.S. Open, withdrew from the WGC event at Firestone and The Open with a shoulder injury. He is at No. 16.

Love said he is keeping an “unofficial points list” in his head among those who are playing well, but either don’t have enough tournaments because of injury (Jim Furyk, for example) or might be missing events because of the Olympics.

“We know who is playing well and who is not playing well,” Love said. “And we know who our team wants as their teammates or their partners. We have a longer list maybe than you would think.”

Love could get a little more clarity this week, anyway. The PGA Championship also is worth double points.